Blue Mountains City Council is gearing up to revitalise the Katoomba Civic Centre after finalising a $750,000 grant through the Building Better Regions Fund, to be matched by Council to a total investment of $1.5 million.
Major improvements include refurbishment of the old library to provide a coworking space, new plantings and art installations.
"The Katoomba Civic Centre is an important, but underused site at the heart of Katoomba," said Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill. "By overhauling this significant precinct, we are reinvigorating the whole town and providing social and economic stimulus in the upper Blue Mountains.
"Coworking spaces are proving to be a cost-effective, flexible and innovative way to work, creating hubs where people can connect to others, network, share ideas and increase their creativity and output.
"This is a productive and contemporary use of a town centre space that will lead to a vibrant, attractive precinct for the whole community. The development will support the high number of locals who leave the City daily to access jobs in Sydney, by providing a permanent remote working space, and the art installations align with the Blue Mountains' status as an inaugural City of the Arts."
Council will soon commence an engagement process to determine the best fit out requirements for the space to align with our community's needs. The cowork space is likely to include workstations, partitions, meeting rooms, private office space, lockers, and digital connectivity. In addition, Council will revitalise the entire precinct, improving security, as well as softening the space with landscaping, colour changes, and the installation of artworks by local artists.
Council is investigating potential operating models for the cowork space, with a preference for partnering with a third party operator to run the space. Council will soon be inviting Expressions of Interest from experienced coworking operators, including nomination of their preferred operating model. Detailed designs for the space will be developed later in the year in collaboration with a selected operator. Council will consult directly with the current users of the former library to identify suitable locations for their continued activity.
There will be 'change of use' Development Application for the site following further consultation with the community later this year. The works are expected to begin shortly and the grant funding agreement requires all works on site to be completed by December 2022.
Council is also awaiting outcome of a grant application to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery fund made in January 2021 for further significant investment of the precinct. If successful, this funding will target a major renewal of the built structures to assist its development as a planetary health hub.